When the anonymous founder(s?) of Bitcoin started the blockchain transaction method under the pseudonym of Satoshi Nakamoto, little did he/they realize that their concept of creating Digital Gold would soon turn into a new exploratory digigraphy for retail major Wal-mart.
Wal-mart is expected to conduct a pilot project in the early months of 2017 where it will leverage blockchain technology to track products through the supply chain process.
It so happened that in October 2016, Wal-mart conducted a pilot test of the blockchain process for two of its products – a packaged item in the US and pork in China. The team involved tracked thousands of packages of these products shipped to multiple stores through a distributed ledger. The distributed ledger involved companies that were in business transactions with each other, including suppliers, retailers and distributers.
So how does the blockchain help?
Well, it’s a simple yet complex method.
Implementing the blockchain method of ledger management could very well help large retailers such as Wal-Mart and Amazon record transactions securely thanks to the system’s trustworthiness. This is because the database of the blockchain has the capacity to hold more data which can aid a detailed analysis. This can very easily help large retailers deliver food products at a faster pace with lesser wastage, thus cutting down on costs significantly.
It is not just large retail chains that are looking to blockchain technology for their ledger management. This new system has piqued the interest of multiple sectors such as financial services, healthcare industry, the supply chain management industry itself, media and telecommunications, consumer products and the manufacturing industry to name a few. A research report by Deloitte has indicated that 42% of consumer products and manufacturing industry, 27% of Technology, media and telecommunications industry and 23% of financial services companies are planning to make an investment in Blockchain technology.
Blockchain in Supply Chain Management
Wal-Mart, a retail giant, is expected to conduct a pilot project in Q1, 2017. The project is expected to run for four months and will use distributed ledger technology of blockchain for tracking various products during supply chain. Also, Chinese logistics industry is expected to enter blockchain technology era. China Federation of Logistics & Purchasing has initiated Blockchain Application Sub-Committee that will be focusing on the promotion of blockchain technology in logistics.
A patent application US 20160164884 A1 assigned to Skuchain, Inc., located in the US develops blockchain based products for B2B trade and supply chain finance, describes a method for logistics data management. The patent application describes storing each logistic transaction as a block in a blockchain, where logistics transactions are verified by cryptographic signatures.
Blockchain in Healthcare
According to a Deloitte report, healthcare and life sciences is expected to invest aggressively in blockchain technology. 35 percent of healthcare and life sciences industry plans to deploy blockchain based distributed ledger by next year. In April 2016, Gem, a US based company, launched Gem Health Network (GHN) for developing applications and shared infrastructure for healthcare powered by the Ethereum blockchain. Gem Health Network can be used to share sensitive information, such as medical data and certifications, in a protected ecosystem. IBM also released beta version of Blockchain Bluemix, which provides secure host, tamper-resistant networks and is able to scale to thousands of users. IBM Blockchain Bluemix is useful for Financial Services, Government and Healthcare.
A patent application US 20150332283 A1 assigned to Nant Holdings Ip, Llc, describes a method of storing healthcare transactions as blocks in blockchain. All healthcare actions of a healthcare stakeholder (e.g. a patient, a care provider, a technician, a payer, a broker, and a guardian) are updated in a blockchain after validating them.
Blockchain in Financial Services/Transactions
Blockchain is an emerging technology in financial services industry by making transactions faster, cheaper, more secure and transparent. Many top U.S. and European banks are trying out blockchain applications by either partnering with startups or creating innovation labs to test their proofs of concept. A cognizant report estimates that 200 plus blockchain startups have been started with an average valuation of $4.4 million. Venture capital funding for Bitcoin and blockchain startups has reached $1 billion in 2015 and is expected to hit $2.5 billion in 2016. Top banks and financial services companies such as State Street, U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo, BBVA, Danske Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland, Scotiabank and Societe Generale are participating in a consortium for testing blockchain and smart contract technologies.
A patent application US 20160342989 A1 assigned to Mastercard International Incorporated, an American multinational financial services corporation, describes a method for performing blockchain based transactions and authorizing those transactions.
Apart from above mentioned blockchain implementations, there are pilot projects going on in various other fields. The Kenyan government is implementing blockchain-based education management system that would make it hard to forge academic certificates. Also, a pilot project to keep track of educational records and trace land transactions is on the cards.
The blockchain method is considered to be useful for the airlines industry as well. Blockchains can be used in e-ticketing processes to maintain data privacy and can be useful in maintenance of logs. Blockchain technology is also expected to revolutionize e-mail systems. In fact, e-mail systems such as John McAfee Swiftmail and Cryptamail run on blockchain. It is no doubt that blockchain is expected to transform the internet world.
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